'Kipp it' and other things I can no longer say readily in English
The longer you live in a country where you have to speak a different language, the harder it becomes to say certain things in your native language. For example, everyday situations that we experience in German become totally normal and it can be difficult to turn our brain around express these things in our native language when asked to do so.
Here are a list of words or expressions that I have have found can be difficult to express in English – at least for me.
‘Kipp it’ or ‘Can you kipp the window?’
In Germany, you can open the windows completely to get gusts of fresh air, or you can tilt it open from the top if you want the window to be slightly open but not all the way. I suppose the proper English phrase would be ‘tilt it open’ or something along those lines. This is something my international friends and I say quite often when we want a bit of fresh air without freezing or making the doors slam shut. Let’s not get into the cultural phenomenon of lüften quite yet, but maybe we’ll have a discussion about that in the future. *winks*
der Sprudel - sparkling water (colloquial term)
This may show that I began learning German in Southern Germany. (Or maybe not? I actually have no idea if this is a general term or more regional.) I just have the feeling that people in Hamburg/Northern Germany refer to sparkling water as Sprudel less often than our neighbors in the South. Anyway, I gave up saying Wasser mit Kohlensäure loooong ago and adopted the shorter Sprudel or Sprudelwasser. Most of my friends still living in native English-speaking countries aren’t fans of sparkling water, so I don’t say it often in English. Therefore, the German variant has taken over and is part of my everyday vocabulary.
Is there even an English translation for Autobahn? Even if you’ve never driven on an Autobahn, you’ve surely heard about it. It’s a mystical highway with stretches of speed zone-free road that allows drivers to unleash their inner ‘need for speed’ (in a controlled way). Since it’s not a normal highway and is already quite well-known, it’s not weird to just call this one as it is.
die Ausländerbehörde - foreigners’ office
As I briefly mentioned in my article about the 10 stages of learning German, the Ausländerbehörde can be a soul-sucking place, just like any bureaucratic office. Not to keep forcing a negative connotation, but I liken my use of this word to how Harry Potter uses the name Voldemort – that’s the name, so why call it something different? Of course I have to use the English name if I’m talking about my experience to friends and family back home, but then I have to think about what it’s called for a second or two.
die Gemüsebrühe - vegetable stock/broth
This is a bit of a random one. Don’t ask why, but for some reason my brain has a hard time telling my mouth vegetable stock or vegetable broth. I think this is one of those things I didn’t say very often before moving to Germany and now I use it more often as I’ve discovered my love for cooking. Does that make sense? Sure, let’s go with that.
die Probezeit - probationary period
Probationary period just sounds so serious and like legalese. This refers to the one to six month trial period after starting a new job where both the employee and employer can see if it’s a good fit. Maybe Probezeit sounds the same to native German speakers, but for me it sounds a bit more down-to-earth. Find more information on Probezeit here if you’re still not sure what the heck I’m talking about.
Gesundheit! - Bless you! (after a sneeze)
I never really liked the convention of saying Bless you! in English after someone sneezes. Why should a bodily function have any sort of religious or spiritual connotation? Apparently there are some interesting theories as to why Bless you! rose to be the standard thing to say to someone following a sneeze, but nowadays I prefer a good, hearty Gesundheit!
Genau - exactly, indeed
Not much to say here – it’s just ingrained into my brain at this point. My English-speaking friends in Germany and I often catch ourselves saying to each other mid-conversation.
die Kasse - cash register, till
This can be traced back to when I was working in a café during my studies, but it’s also still relevant because it’s so much shorter and easier to say! I’m American, so I would say cash register over till, so going with Kasse in German is the shorter and easier choice when speaking with friends who understand German.
der Pfand - deposit (e.g. on a bottle)
Talking about deposits on items can be a daily topic in Germany. There’s not only deposits on plastic and glass bottles, but you may have to pay a deposit on your glass at the bar or on other items at events. I’ve been asked by so many Germans what Pfand is in English, so it just seems more convenient to say it in German. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯